Written by Bella Dalima
11 Jan, 2014 | 6:35 pm
Ariel Sharon passed away at the age of 85 after his condition “dramatically deteriorated” late Thursday afternoon. The former Prime Minister had been fighting kidney failure and blood infection, and was in immediate, life-threatening critical condition.
Sharon, 85, had been in a coma since suffering a debilitating stroke in 2006. His condition, long stable, took a turn for the worse last week and doctors at Sheba Medical Centre, at Tel Hashomer near Tel Aviv, have been issuing intermittent updates detailing his deteriorating condition.
Sharon was one of Israel’s most iconic and controversial figures. As one of Israel’s most famous generals, Sharon was known for bold tactics and an occasional refusal to obey orders. As a politician he became known as “The Bulldozer,” a man contemptuous of his critics while also capable of getting things done.
As Defence Minister, he led Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, and was forced to resign the post after a commission of inquiry found him responsible for failing to prevent the massacre by Christian Phalangists of Palestinian refugees in Beirut’s Sabra and Shatila camps.
A prominent hard-line voice over the decades, he was elected Prime Minister in 2001.
In mid-2005, he directed a unilateral withdrawal of Israeli troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip, ending a 38-year military control of the territory. It was a shocking turnaround for a man who had been a leading player in building Jewish settlements in captured territories.
He bolted the Likud party soon after and established the centrist Kadima party, where he was joined by Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni. He appeared on his way to an easy reelection when he suffered a severe stroke in January 2006. His deputy, Olmert, took over and was elected prime minister a few months later.
Sharon had a first, small stroke in December 2005 and was put on blood thinners before experiencing a severe brain hemorrhage on January 4, 2006. After spending months in the Jerusalem hospital where he was initially treated, Sharon was transferred to the long-term care facility at Tel Hashomer Hospital. He was taken home briefly at one point, but was returned to the hospital, where he had been since.
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